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On 17th December, this striking-looking male Siberian Stonechat was found at Bevercotes in North Nottinghamshire, close to Phil's home. The strange bird was first seen by Bob Stevens in a heavy shower. He thought it was very much like a Whinchat but Bob felt sure it was a Stonechat. Aware of various identification pitfalls involved with Stonechat races and unfamiliarity with foreign birds, Bob asked Phil to take a look.
Aware of a whole range of identification pitfalls and recent reports of Continental birds showing pale rumps, Phil quickly confirmed the identification as Nottinghamshire's first Siberian Stonechat and one of less that a handful of winter records in the UK. As a result, this plumage is rarely seen and depicted in field guides.
In snow showers, horizontal at times, the bird rarely kept still, but showed a white rump bordered with some buff. The completely unstreaked rump ruled out the British race of which two birds were present on site for comparison. Together with black axillaries, the pallid colour and a tail that lacked any white, it was narrowed down to belonging to the race S. t. maura
The amount of black on the face appears to be unusual at this time of year, and the contrasting white throat even more so.
It is understandable that some would think it was a Whinchat on first impression and it is also reminiscent of Fuertaventura Chat, but the rump and tail pattern quickly eliminate these species. All-in-all, it is a beautiful bird and may remain for the winter if it survives the pre-Christmas cold spell and snow.


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